The Proverbs Management Handbook: A Christian Manager’s Guide To Doing Business, by John A. Guderian
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookCrash. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
While there is no shortage of books that look at the Proverbs as well as the rest of the Bible for tips for business leaders , this book has a strong focus on the managerial aspects of Proverbs and manages to make a compelling case for the worth of reading Proverbs if one happens to be in management. Throughout the book the author shares his own perspective about being a manager, and he assumes that the readers of the book will be managers themselves and will be people who are hungry for knowledge about leadership (and willing to accept him as an expert of sorts) as well as being thick-skinned given the author’s rather critical approach. Not all of these assumptions may be true for every reader, and the author, like many, seems to be unaware of the larger potential audience for this book than the relatively narrow one he aimed at. Even so, this book has a lot to offer even to readers who are not managers, but it is of vital importance that one read this book with a thick skin, or one will be frequently offended by the author’s comments.
The contents of this book are a bit more than 200 pages of material divided into seventeen chapters of unequal size that focus on various aspects of management that can be found from the Proverbs of Solomon and others. After beginning with an introduction (1), the author moves to talk about the importance of Proverbs in helping determine a company’s strategy (2). After this the author discusses the benefits that come to the righteous (3) as well as the advice that Proverbs gives about leadership (4). A variety of chapters then follow that give some discussion about career planning (5) and the importance of diligence, something many of us struggle with (6). A discussion of conflict management (7), something the author cares a lot about as well as self-improvement follows (8), before the author discusses the vital area of communication (9) and the role of human resources in a Christian company (10), something the author goes on at length about. A short chapter on quality assurance (11) and another short chapter on marketing (12) precede slightly longer chapters that look at a biblical approach to sales (13) and purchasing (14), which point out the ethical minefields of these key aspects of corporate behavior. The book then closes with chapters dealing with continuous improvement (15), day-to-day operations (16), and finance (17) which appeal to kaizen as well as biblical warnings against greed. The book closes with an extensive bibliography to encourage the reader to read more books.
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, but something kept holding me back from fully enjoying this book. Part of the reason seems to be the author’s tone and approach. The author manages to combine the most irritating aspects of Theory X/ISO control methods and the preachiness of evangelicals, and that is not a combination of qualities that I find endearing as a reader. It doesn’t help that the author seems to assume that he is dealing with employees as recalcitrant mules rather than sons and daughters of the Most High God. If he remembered who he was dealing with he would likely have much more gratitude towards their efforts towards his own bottom line than he shows here. Be that as it may, this book does manage to contain a lot of genuinely biblical advice and that is something worth appreciating. If the author’s tone is more than a little bit off-putting, he is writing to a managerial audience and he probably expects them to share his own prejudices against hired labor, prejudices I do not share as a non-manager myself. Perspective matters a lot when looking at a book like this one.
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